Ageing populations and rising skill demands have heightened expectations that higher education systems will widen their offer of continuing education and training (CET) for adults aiming to renew or augment their skills at an advanced level. CET is becoming increasingly important for maintaining a highly skilled workforce also in Germany, and particularly in the state of Brandenburg. However, Brandenburg’s public higher education institutions have so far been only marginal providers. To expand their offer of CET, they would require more legal certainty about the use of public funding in light of European Union (EU) state aid policy. EU state aid policy ensures public subsidies (state aid) are not used by state agencies to crowd out markets (economic activity). There are no clear EU, federal or state-level directions about whether CET is a non-economic activity and thus exempt from EU state aid rules. This report analyses the reasons for this legal uncertainty and provides recommendations to the state government and public higher education institutions in Brandenburg about how to clarify the status of continuing education and training as a state-aided activity. It also proposes pointers for interpretation and future reform of the EU framework on state aid, and provides impulses for policy action in other German states and at the federal level.
The Higher Education series will offer policy advice to governments and other higher education stakeholders who would like to learn how well their systems are performing in comparison to others. The series will provide insights on how higher education systems are performing overall and in specific areas; why some systems are performing better than others; and what countries can learn from the experience of others. In addition to policy and working papers, the series includes reports on the conceptual and analytical frameworks that underpin the work, as well as regular syntheses and country reports on benchmarking higher education system performance and the in-depth analysis of selected higher education topics.